Wedding Readings

MarriageIn honor of my dear friends, Chris and Cara, who are getting married this weekend, I want to share two exemplary literary excerpts on the topic of marriage.

Although I’m partial to these wedding readings because they were a part of my ceremony nearly ten years ago, I particularly like them because they offer a unique take on lifelong love and partnership. Even now, nearly ten years into my own marriage, I continue to revisit these words and find new truths in them.

May these reflections give you strength and encouragement, Chris and Cara, from now in the shiny-new phase through the wonderful patina that the years will bring. Best wishes on our marriage adventure!

By Rainer Maria Rilke
Translated by Stephen Mitchell

Marriage is in many ways a simplification of life, and it naturally combines the strengths and wills of two young people so that, together, they seem to reach farther into the future than they did before. Above all, marriage is a new task and a new seriousness—a new demand on the strength and generosity of each partner.

The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people, infinite distance exists, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them—if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.

Life is self-transformation, and human relationships, which are an extraction of life, are the most changeable of all; they rise and fall from minute to minute, and lovers are those for whom no moment is like any other, people between whom nothing habitual ever takes place, nothing that has already existed, but just what is new, unexpected, unprecedented. There are such connection, which must be a very great, an almost unbearable happiness, but they can occur only between very rich beings, between those who have become, each for his own sake, rich, calm, and concentrated. Only if two worlds are wide and deep and individual can they be combined.

A Propos of Lady Chatterley’s Lover
By D.H. Lawrence

Marriage is the clue to human life, but there is no marriage apart from the wheeling sun and the nodding earth, from the straying of the planets and the magnificence of the fixed stars. Is not man different, utterly different, at dawn from what he is at sunset, and a woman, too? And does not the changing harmony and discord of their variation make the secret music of life? And is it not so throughout life? A man is different at thirty, forty, at fifty, at sixty, at seventy: and the woman at his side is different. But is there not some strange conjunction in their differences? Is there not some peculiar harmony, through youth, the period of childbirth, the period of florescence and young children … the period of waning passion but mellowing delight of affection, the dim, unequal period of the approach of death, when the man and woman look at one another with the dim apprehension of separation that is really not a separation? Is there not, throughout it all, some unseen, unknown interplay of balance, harmony, completions like some soundless symphony which moves with a rhythm from phase to phase, so different, so very different in the various movements, and yet one symphony, made out of the soundless singing of two strange and incompatible lives, a man’s and a woman’s?

The oneness of the bloodstream of man and woman in marriage completes the universe, as far as humanity is concerned, completes the streaming of the sun and the flowing of the stars.

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